business news in context, analysis with attitude

From the Wall Street Journal:

"Whole Foods Market says it is finding it easier to hire retail workers. Turnover at Chipotle has stabilized after ticking up last year, according to the burrito maker. Grubhub says it is having no problem attracting drivers.

"Several executives, speaking about the labor market at the Wall Street Journal’s Global Food Forum in Chicago, said they are seeing some early signs that labor pressures are easing for entry-level positions. However, many said that hiring and retaining staffers still takes much time and attention.

"The U.S. unemployment rate, at 3.6% as of last month, remains historically low, and employers have offered signing bonuses, higher pay and stepped-up training and onboarding in recent months to draw staffers. Some employers expressed optimism at the Journal event that the headaches in staffing restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses who employ many hourly workers might be beginning to improve, even as others insisted that they still needed many more employees."

KC's View:

If the labor pressures on retailers ease, I hope that businesses don't take advantage of the moment to take some level of revenge on the workers who took advantage of the climate in recent months to press for more money and better working conditions.  The pendulum always swings, but retailers would be better off if they look to create more labor stability by continuing to invest in their associates, creating an environment in which workers feel more invested in the business.

We also may be treading on relatively unexplored territory.  The Journal had another story over the weekend about how unusual the current economy is:

"The U.S. economy has experienced 12 recessions since World War II, and each one included two features: Economic output contracted and unemployment rose.

"Today, something highly unusual is happening. Economic output fell in the first quarter and signs suggest it did so again in the second. Yet the job market showed little sign of faltering during the first half of the year. The jobless rate fell from 4% last December to 3.6% in May.

"It is the latest strange twist in the odd trajectory of the pandemic economy, and a riddle for those contemplating a recession. If the U.S. is in or near one, it doesn’t yet look like any other on record.

"Analysts sometimes talked about 'jobless recoveries' after past recessions, in which economic output rose but employers kept shedding workers. The first half of 2022 was the mirror image - a 'jobful' downturn, in which output fell and companies kept hiring. Whether it will spiral into a fuller and deeper recession isn’t known, though a growing number of economists believe it will."